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Old 28-11-2021, 13:58   #1
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Electrical puzzler

Last Sunday came to my on the hard for the winter boat to tarp cover, etc. As I went inside the cabin I noticed no electricity. Schneider 35A charge controller not blinking, Xantrex battery monitor not on, bilge pump, VHF, etc. getting no juice. Two weeks prior I took the two good batteries home for the winter and replaced them with 2 so-so older batteries which I have used for the winter for the past several seasons. Prior to installation the older batteries were charged to almost 13v and their purpose is mainly to power bilge pump as needed, as I have a keel stepped mast and some rain and run off water do get in. All other electric drain was prevented by having main switch in off position.

My first knee jerk thought was "lightening strike" but found no evidence of it. Upon telephone advice of a marine pro friend I first checked my batteries - 0.11v for both when connected and about 0v when disconnected. Then I checked the voltage coming in from solar panels (4X110W) and it came to 18.79v which seemed Ok for late autumn late afternoon in New England. However, the voltage coming out of the charger (35A model w/o heat sink) was 0.11v. I had an "aha moment" and disconnected that charger and connected the spare one, a WM rinky dink 30A plastic thingy. That too came out with 0.11v. Overpowering charger by the solars seems unlikely as it is almost winter sun here.

Disconnected all wiring from the batteries, just left the spare charger connected in case it resets or whatnot.

I still have to check all the electronics onboard to see if they were fried or are merely de-powered at this point. Plan to use an outside 120v regular cord with 12v transformer with a socket for which I have a 12v plug with alligator clamps for testing.

No evidence of any electrical spikes, burns or such. The boat is somewhat close to electrical wires overhead but not really too close, perhaps 10-15ft or so from the backstay, may be more. And no evidence of wires touching my backstay at any point prior although there were high winds during that 2 weeks absence.

Any guesses, thoughts, suggestions, etc., other than obviously conked charge controller, would be appreciated.
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Old 28-11-2021, 14:08   #2
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Re: Electrical puzzler

What are you calling a charger?
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Old 28-11-2021, 14:28   #3
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Re: Electrical puzzler

The solar controller Likly is not turning on because it sees no battery voltage.

Charge the batteries with an ac charger to get them over 11-12v. . Then reconnect the solar to see if it will put out amps.

To me it sounds like the only problem is your batteries died. Maybe the bilge pump was stuck on or something.
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Old 28-11-2021, 14:29   #4
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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What are you calling a charger?
His solar controller from the sounds of it.
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Old 28-11-2021, 14:41   #5
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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His solar controller from the sounds of it.


Thatís what I was leaning to but just wanted to be sure before offering the same solution that you have.
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Old 28-11-2021, 15:38   #6
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Re: Electrical puzzler

I had stuff like this happen in the RV with the unplugged 110VAC charger and car stereo left hanging off the battery drawing things down little by little until the batteries were 'mostly dead'. One session of charging on a 'dumb' charger to get battery from 0 to 12v and then another on the 'smart' charger to get it as good as it was going to get. Now I undo the fuses to the charger when not in use and then put it back together to periodically bring up the battery.
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Old 28-11-2021, 20:18   #7
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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What are you calling a charger?
My bad, charge controller. This:

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Old 28-11-2021, 20:28   #8
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Re: Electrical puzzler

Thanks, I did not realize that the charge controller will not "juice up" dead or almost dead batteries. Looks like I will have to run regular 40A WM "smart" charger until the batteries come to life, if at all.

This set up (older but still ok batteries charged through charge controller getting juice from 440W solar panels) worked fine for the past 3-4 winters that I kept the mast on. Prior to that the cost of wintering unstepped was not significantly more than stepped as there was some competition between the two related yards. But last 3-4 years they've been converging on cost as several nearby marinas and yards closed or downsized due to RE development.
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Old 29-11-2021, 04:16   #9
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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Thanks, I did not realize that the charge controller will not "juice up" dead or almost dead batteries. Looks like I will have to run regular 40A WM "smart" charger until the batteries come to life, if at all.

.

Some may or may not.

The 40a smart charger may not either.
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Old 29-11-2021, 10:28   #10
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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Some may or may not.

The 40a smart charger may not either.
Hate to plug WM but this one has been pretty good in rescucitating almost dead batteries for the past 5 or so years.

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Old 29-11-2021, 11:51   #11
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Re: Electrical puzzler

You mentioned being in New England, you leave an automatic bilge pump on all winter? Seems like once water in the bilge starts to freeze, any condition that triggers the bilge pump will cause it to run indefinitely. Could that have been what drained the batteries?
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Old 30-11-2021, 06:31   #12
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Re: Electrical puzzler

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Originally Posted by wyb2 View Post
You mentioned being in New England, you leave an automatic bilge pump on all winter? Seems like once water in the bilge starts to freeze, any condition that triggers the bilge pump will cause it to run indefinitely. Could that have been what drained the batteries?
I thought about it as a possible culprit but don't believe there were nights cold enough to do that yet or that the water level in the bilge was high enough to trigger the pump. The boat is on the hard in the marina perhaps 150-200' from the bay so it gets frozen bilges a bit later than it would be farther from the water.

Thanks for the suggestion as I'm trying to look at as many potential causes as possible.
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